Spiders may have REM sleep cycles just like humans. Since REM stands for rapid eye movement, one of the main indicators of this type of deep sleep involves just that. While spiders can’t move their eyes the same way we can, some have retinal tubes that shift to direct their gaze in different directions. Scientists observed movement during that phase of active sleep. Along with twitchy legs, so it all sounds very similar to REM sleep in people. You may have also observed it in dogs and cats. Now, thanks to the video below, you can watch baby jumping spiders dream too.
The researchers recorded sleeping spiderlings, which are translucent, allowing for easy observation of their movements. The peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the study. We learned about it thanks to coverage by New Scientist.
Other researchers study REM sleep in a a variety of different animals. Including octopus and other cephalopods, who flash colorful changes on their bodies while dozing. Animals that rely on different senses may twitch those muscles more while dreaming. Indeed, sleeping honeybees move their antenna, which they use to smell, taste, and touch.
An an arachnophobic, I generally dislike covering spider science. Their leg movement creeps me out, something that was made very clear with the recent story about scientists turning dead spiders into robot claws. But it turns out little snoozing spiders are actually quite cute. Almost as precious as those Lucas the Spider shorts on YouTube. Just like I like to watch my dog twitch in her sleep and guess what she’s dreaming about, now I wonder the same for spiders. As long as it doesn’t involve dangling over me while I sleep or hanging out in my shower, I’m fine with it.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.